Seinen manga is slightly different from what you are generally accustomed to reading. The world of anime and manga is packed with shonen titles, but there are several seinen manga series that are pretty popular and definitely worth reading!
The seinen category has been gaining popularity in recent years, appealing to a wide range of audiences with its mature themes and intricate storylines. Targeted towards young men over 18, seinen includes a variety of genres such as action, drama, sci-fi, horror, sports, romance, and more, delving into topics that are both intriguing and thought-provoking. These series often feature complex characters, darker themes, which include mature content and gore, and thought-provoking narratives that hook readers and keep them engaged.
A great seinen manga is one that tells a compelling story while exploring the breadth and depth of human emotion and experience. From intense psychological thrillers to relatable comedies, the seinen demographic has something to offer for everyone. With an ever-growing selection of titles in this category, it can be challenging to determine which titles are truly the best.
To make reading the best seinen manga series easier, I have compiled a list of top picks showcasing the diverse themes and genres the seinen world has to offer. These selections range from well-known series to hidden gems, so let’s get right to it without wasting another moment!
Best Seinen Manga Series in 2023
1. Vagabond by Takehiko Inoue & Eiji Yoshikawa
Vagabond is the perfect story for those who like samurais and sword fights. The beauty of the manga’s art and the development of the characters, both in terms of strength and spirit, are among the best you can find. An excellent title that everyone should read at least once. Sadly, the manga entered a hiatus and has been like that for over 7 years.
The tale starts with a prologue involving Shinmen Takezo, who’s often referred to as a mad dog because of the way he constantly fought in his youth. Takezo tries to stay away from the world of war mostly to protect his childhood friend, Matahachi, who gets him involved in a very complicated situation once he reaches his hometown.
Takezo is eventually born into a new man after meeting Takuan. The name he receives is Musashi Miyamoto, a name often heard in Japanese history, one belonging to a person who once was a legendary samurai.
2. Berserk by Kentaro Miura
Another legendary title, Berserk, is another piece that should be read by every manga enthusiast, primarily because of its excellent quality and what it has managed to achieve as a dark-fantasy title, influencing several popular titles of today.
The title starts at first with a small prologue following the journey of Guts as he hunts demons he calls apostles, all to fulfill his revenge. During the first chapters, he meets with Puck, an elf that was being tortured, as he arrives at a new time. Guts saves him, and through his interaction with the elf, he is shown to be a relentless man who cares naught for the well-being of his kind.
After the first couple of arcs are completed, the true story is revealed through the “Golden Age” arc, which tells the backstory of Guts and how everything changed once he met Griffith, the leader of the mercenary group known as the Band of the Hawk. He is a man who would influence his fate and the fate of the people Guts would eventually call comrades.
Related: How Many Berserk Volumes Are There?
3. Vinland Saga by Makoto Yukimura
Whenever I talk about Vinland Saga, I can’t avoid getting emotional because of its greatness. This is one of the best manga series that start with one premise, only using it as a setting for the story to go in a completely different direction. This is masterfully done, thanks to the development of the characters and the things they had to go through throughout the story.
This seinen manga series follows the life of Thorfinn as he experiences many things. At first, he’s a simple kid, the son of Thors. Thors appears to be a war fugitive who escaped a life of war after a battle. His past chases him far away to where he lives, and to redeem himself, he is asked to “join” one last fight to aid his previous comrades.
This is but a farce, as he is set to be assassinated at the hands of Askeladd, a renowned mercenary. Unknown to this, Thorfinn hides in the boat meant to take Thors and his men to war. Using Thorfinn as a hostage, Askeladd gains the upper hand in his fight against Thors and manages to kill him.
Thorfinn then joins Askeladd’s mercenaries in their ventures, aiming to one day beat him in an honorable duel to take revenge for his father’s death.
4. Goodnight Punpun by Inio Asano
Suppose you like manga titles that revolve around a character’s personal growth and the many struggles they face in a cruel and depressing world. In that case, I believe reading Goodnight Punpun would be your best course of action. As a personal favorite of mine, I could not recommend it more!
The story follows Punpun Onodera, a kindergartener with a highly complex life. His parents, for instance, are constantly fighting with one another, which affects him deeply. He’s also in love with a transfer student named Aiko, and he struggles to understand what he’s going through. Of course, things become even more complex as the story goes on.
What makes everything interesting is how Punpun is portrayed as a small, innocent bird, while everything surrounding him is very detailed, which changes as the story progresses.
5. JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure by Hirohiko Araki
Another legendary title, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, is well known in the community for being one of the most original series you can read. It also has another significant point in its favor – the series is divided into different parts, each with a different protagonist, side characters, and a different villain.
The first part of the series showcases the great rivalry between the main character, Jonathan Joestar, whom everyone calls JoJo, and his stepbrother, Dio, who was adopted into the family. Dio hates Jonathan’s guts and wants to take everything from the Joestar family eventually.
To do that, Dio ends up relying on a mask that turns him into a vampire, and to stop him, Jonathan takes a mysterious man as a mentor, teaching the arts of Hamon, a mystic art capable of hurting vampires and their creations.
The series started as a shonen manga, but it has breached into the seinen territory throughout several parts, so I decided to feature it on this list!
6. Kaguya-sama: Love is War by Aka Akasaka
Kaguya-sama: Love is War is a considerably popular seinen manga series involving comedy, romance, and a couple of idiots who love each other but are too prideful to do something about it. I highly recommend it if you want to read something lighter, with a slow but exciting development between the two main characters and their relationship.
The title revolves around the student council of a prestigious academy, with Shirogane being its president and Kaguya being its vice president. Both are the brightest students in the school and are admired by all students. However, deep inside, they share an unknown secret – they both have feelings for each other!
However, they won’t simply confess. No. They want to make the other one confess their feelings first! Thus, the two begin a love war surrounded by strategy and pride!
7. One-Punch Man by ONE & Yusuke Murata
One-Punch Man is a seinen manga I especially recommend because of its beautiful drawings, incredible sense of comedy, as well as the way it introduces fighting, even considering its premise.
At first, the manga tackles a character known as Saitama, who trains so hard that he awakens enough power to beat all his enemies in just one hit. One would believe that Saitama is the strongest hero in the world, but even though he is the strongest, he’s a rookie in the Hero Association. If it weren’t for Genos, a cyborg he saves and takes on as his apprentice, he wouldn’t be a certified hero at all!
The series also introduces many villains and heroes, all trying to fulfill their ambitions while Saitama and Genos keep doing their best to reach the top of the hero world.
8. Tokyo Ghoul & Tokyo Ghoul: Re by Sui Ishida
Tokyo Ghoul became famous primarily because of its premise and its dark approach to character development. It also finished after introducing its new series, Tokyo Ghoul: Re, which takes place after a bit of a time skip and continues the story of Ken Kaneki.
As the name implies, the title focuses on the existence of ghouls, human-like creatures who are much stronger and faster yet have a unique weakness – they must eat human flesh to survive. Any attempt to consume anything other than human flesh will result in an indescribable urge to vomit, making it possible for them to eat anything else.
Since ghouls look identical to humans, they have successfully immersed themselves in human society, where they either hunt humans or adapt to live by their rules. And, to his bad luck, Kaneki involves himself with a famous ghoul known for hunting and devouring men. He manages to survive the attack, though, but at what cost?
9. Uzumaki: Spiral Into Horror by Junji Ito
From the hands of Junji Ito, the master of horror manga, comes Uzumaki, which has often been considered his masterpiece, and for a reason. As one of the few horror manga series you can find in the media, I believe it is a good start to the horror genre and the author’s titles.
Uzumaki: Spiral Into Horror introduces two characters, Kirie and Shuichi, a couple of high-school students who often share their company whenever school finishes. One day, Shuichi talks about a particular phenomenon surrounding the town – Spirals.
Everything seems to be spiral-shaped. The water that flows in the rivers and the wind that moves the leaves; all seem to be influenced by the mysterious shape. And things get worse when Shuichi’s father starts acting strangely due to being enticed by the charms of the spiral. And this story will be one of many involving the dreadful curse of Uzumaki’s tale.
10. Monster by Naoki Urasawa
Monster is one of those series worth the time investment, even if it might be a little hard to digest at first. It is also considered one of the classics, mostly revolving around the psychological thriller and mystery genres.
Kenzo Tenma is a talented Japanese neurosurgeon that works in a German hospital. He is greatly admired by his coworkers, thanks to his talent. He’s also the fiance of Evan Heinemann, the daughter of the hospital’s director, so he has a bright future ahead of him. Kenzo, however, is a man who always thrives to do what is right.
So when he receives an urgent patient, a small kid with a head bullet wound, and an influential politician afterward, he decides to do what he believes is right and performs surgery on the kid.
Of course, he ends up losing everything because of his decision. But Johan, the kid he saves, reappears in his life, and he appears to be a psychopath willing to do everything to repay the favor, and Kenzo will have to do whatever he can to stop him.
11. Grand Blue Dreaming by Kenji Inoue & Kimitake Yoshioka
This title is a little special, mainly because it focuses on one genre I absolutely love – comedy. The comedy of Grand Blue Dreaming, also known as Grand Blue, is gold, and I believe it is one of the best you can find in its category.
Iori Kitagawa is about to become a college student and decides to go to Izu University, living with his uncle as his new life begins. What he doesn’t know is that his uncle owns a scuba diving store, and as someone who never had the chance to learn how to swim, this piques his interest.
One would think that the story would solely focus on this aspect of its premise and rely on Scuba Diving as a foundation. But in reality, Iori is involved in a lot of situations linked to his college life, many of them related to alcohol, partying, and doing crazy stuff with his new friends, including his two beautiful cousins, an otaku, and a bunch of macho-men who enjoy drinking and the sea.
12. Oshi no Ko by Aka Akasaka & Mengo Yokoyari
Oshi no Ko is a seinen manga series written by Aka Akasaka and illustrated by Mengo Yokoyari. The story revolves around a talented countryside doctor, Gorou Amemiya, who’s a big fan of Ai Hoshino, a talented idol.
So, when he finds Ai Hoshino in his hospital while pregnant, he is beyond shocked. Not only because Ai is one 16-years old but also because, in his mind, Ai was a pure maiden and the personification of perfection. However, he quickly gets over his initial shock and promises her that she will have a safe delivery and that her secret will remain safe with him.
But things turn dark when the doctor meets his untimely death at the hands of a mysterious man, only to wake up as a baby, as Ai Hoshino’s baby. And he isn’t alone as he also has a twin sister, who appears to be reincarnated just like him.
But the story of Oshi no Ko isn’t slice-of-life or lighthearted as you’d imagine, as the title delves into darker themes with a murder mystery at the center of it all!
13. Land of the Lustrous by Haruko Ichikawa
Land of the Lustrous is, sadly, one of those great titles that went through a hiatus. But it is still one of the best seinen manga series you should consider reading!
The story introduces a fascinating premise involving human-shaped creatures called “Gems.” These gems are immortal and constantly fight with creatures known as the moon people who aim to destroy them and kidnap them. These gems are guided by Kongou, a man who acts as a teacher and father of the gems and tries to protect them from the moon people.
The main character, Phosphophyllite, called Phos by its peers, is the most fragile gem of them all, and it is also the youngest, with only 300 years behind its back. Because of how fragile it is, Phos can’t fight the moon people, so Kongo asks it to create a journal about the planet they live on, and trying to figure out how to do it, Phos meets Cinnabar.
This very lonesome gem can’t be around other gems because its poisonous coat can deteriorate everything. Willing to become its friend, Phos promises to find a job for Cinnabar that would make it truly happy.
14. My Dress-Up Darling by Shinichi Fukuda
A romance manga that reached incredible popularity, My Dress-Up Darling is undoubtedly one of the best titles you can read today. One of the reasons why it became so popular was because of its female lead, Marin Kitagawa, who is often regarded as the best waifu by otakus worldwide.
The story starts with our main protagonist, Gojo, who struggles to make friends due to a lack of confidence and his introversion. Gojo’s goal is to become a Hina doll maker, which caused him to experience a very traumatic event in the past.
One day, he sees Marin Kitagawa, a trendy and cheerful girl who is unafraid to be herself and share her love for anime. Gojo eventually finds Marin in the school’s sewing room trying to make a cosplay, even though she’s not really good at it. Admiring her efforts to fulfill her goals, Gojo decides to help her out, eventually developing a friendship between them that slowly flourishes into something else.
15. Hellsing by Kouta Hirano
Another huge classic of the world of manga and anime, Hellsing is probably the one title most anime and manga fans have seen. It is an excellent seinen manga to read if you want to enjoy action, dark fantasy, and very edgy yet cool characters fighting.
The premise goes like this – an organization known as Hellsing is in charge of dealing with the paranormal. Specifically, they deal with killing vampires and their underlings and protecting the country and its queen from their influence.
Seras Victoria, a regular cop, finds herself involved in a scenario involving vampires. Alucard, a vampire and one of the organization’s members, is sent to deal with the situation. To take down the vampire, he also takes down Seras, as she was being held captive by it.
Seras is then asked whether she is a virgin or not. After answering yes to the question, Alucard bites her, turning her into a vampire, who eventually joins the organization as Alucard’s disciple.
16. 20th Century Boys by Naoki Urasawa
This series is complex and relatively difficult to explain because its story is developed through different timelines. One is set in the past, another in the present, and the next in the future, linked to the years 1969 to 2017 and following a group of characters who once were childhood friends.
The ultimate goal of the series is to discover the truth behind a mysterious character who calls himself “Friend” and aims to take over the world. This character appears to be a member of the group of friends present at the story’s beginning. Kenji, the main protagonist of the series and the leader of the group of friends, plays a vital role in the story’s development.
17. Kingdom by Yasuhisa Hara
The story of this title is simple at first but, like many other titles, becomes more complex as it goes, introducing even more characters and plots. It is also revered to be one of the most remarkable series because of its amazing fights and how strategy is heavily relied upon in war. It is also one of the longest seinen manga series, with over 700 chapters to read.
Kingdom is set in China during the periods of the Three Great Kingdoms. Shin and Hyou are two orphans who constantly fight to ensure they become strong enough to become the greatest generals in all of China. One day, however, an influential person arrives in their town asking for Hyou. Later, Hyou returns to the village, very close to dying.
Hyou tells Shin to move to another village, where he meets someone identical to his childhood friend Ei Sei, the current king of Qin, one of the three kingdoms. At first, he hates him but decides to help him in his dream to unify all three kingdoms.
18. Steins;Gate by Nitroplus & Yomi Sarachi
Steins;Gate first started as a visual novel, which was later adapted to manga and then anime. Of course, each of its adaptations has something unique, and if you know nothing about it or want to experience the series in a new format, trying the manga is a good choice.
The series revolves around a self-proclaimed mad scientist named Rintaro Okabe, who is fixated on developing futuristic tools. With the help of his friends, Mayuri and Itaru, he manages to do just that in the form of a microwave capable of sending messages throughout time.
With this discovery, he will find himself fighting against an organization aiming for world domination and a genius known as Makise Kurisu, who will help him discover the truth behind the situation.
19. Golden Kamuy by Satoru Noda
Golden Kamuy is a tale of incredible treasure hidden at an unknown location. The only way to discover this location is to find various tattoos imprinted on the skins of several inmates who escaped their punishment long ago and bring these tattoos together to form a map. That is the story presented to our main character, Sugimoto, by a strange old man.
This old man appears to be one of the inmates, and he attempts to kill Sugimoto after realizing what he said in his drunkenness. Considering he needs money, Sugimoto decides to try the treasure hunt alongside Asirpa, a small girl who saved his life. She wants to find the people who killed his father, a member of the tribe that once possessed the legendary treasure.
20. Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation by Rifujin na Magonote & Yuka Fujikawa
Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation is often called the best isekai story, and there’s a reason for that. Its original piece, the web novel, developed an incredibly well-written story with one of the best character development you can enjoy. Now, its manga and anime adaptations have achieved even more popularity.
It all begins with the main character being killed by a truck as he attempts to save a group of students. He reincarnates as a child named Rudeus Greyrat and retains his past memories. This makes him want to try his best in his new life without ever slacking off, mainly because, back in his previous life, he wasted his time doing nothing and achieved nothing that could be considered remarkable.
Even then, he will struggle to deal with his past traumas in his new life, as he does his best to achieve many things. Things will change when he faces an incredibly unforgiving event that will change his life and the lives of the people he loves forever, leaving no trace of the life he once had behind.
21. Record of Ragnarok by Takumi Fukui, Shinya Umemura & Ajichika
Record of Ragnarok is an excellent series for those wanting nothing but action and interesting backstories. It is also a beautifully drawn manga, and the fighting scenes can be pretty exciting and fun for those who enjoy the shonen elements.
As the name implies, the world of this series is about to end, as the gods decided to end humanity after thousands of years of doing nothing. One Valkyrie, Brunhilde, challenges the gods to give humanity another chance in the form of a tournament where gods and humankind will have to fight. The winner will decide what is to come.
The series then introduces a bunch of iconic characters who will have to fight the gods in duels to death, including Adam, the first human and, of course, one of the representatives of humankind.
22. Blue Period by Tsubasa Yamaguchi
If you like emotional pieces, this is the title for you. Blue Period showcases the struggles of a young man as he finds something he is passionate about and works hard to achieve his goals.
Yatora Yaguchi, the series’ main character, is well known for being a competent student. He puts effort into managing good grades while enjoying time with his friends by adventuring in the nightlife of Tokyo. Even though he’s somewhat satisfied, deep inside, he feels a void since he doesn’t know what will come of his life.
One day, his life changes forever as he witnesses a painting of one of his seniors. This encourages him to try to attend one class, and he finds out that art can express his feelings and the things he has experienced throughout the years. He then decides to do whatever it takes to join Geidai, the prestigious Tokyo University of Arts.
23. Dorohedoro by Q Hayashida
As a dark title combining many genres, including steam-punk, post-apocalyptic and dark fantasy, Dorohedoro is unique and one of the best seinen manga series ever!
At first, it introduces a world of decadence that is constantly being affected by beings everyone calls “Sorcerers.” Our main character, Caiman, hunts sorcerers to discover the truth behind his existence. He has no memories of his past because one day, he found himself having a lizard head; inside it, a man lives.
Caiman hunts sorcerers and puts them inside his mouth so the man within can decide whether it is the person who cursed him or not. This eventually catches the attention of influential sorcerers, who decide to hunt him down. Thankfully, Caiman is immune to magic. Thus, he will constantly fight against them to uncover the mystery.
24. Prison School by Akira Hiramoto
Prison School is another comedy series that I recommend alongside Grand Blue. This one can be a lot spicier, though, mainly because of the extremely sexy scenes it showcases. If you don’t mind the risqué, go for it!
The story takes place in the institute known as Hachimitsu, Private Academy, which used to be a girls-only academy until the beginning of the series and was infamous for being one of the stricter schools one could attend. A group of male students, Kiyoshi, Takehito, Shingo, Andrei, and Joji, enroll in the school after its policy changes.
They eventually make the mistake of trying to spy on the female students during their bath time. Because of the strictness of the school, they end up in prison inside the school premises, under the relentless surveillance of two students under the command of the student council president, a girl renowned for her intense hate towards men.
25. The Rising of the Shield Hero by Yusagi Aneko & Kyu Aiya
The Rising of the Shield Hero starts with the summoning of Naofumi to another world as one of the four heroes destined to save it. Each hero owns a legendary weapon, with the others being the Spear Hero, the Sword Hero, and the Bow Hero. Naofumi becomes the Shield Hero, who, for some reason, is not as appreciated by the kingdom.
He is enthusiastic at first, but things change when the only comrade he makes, the kingdom’s princess, betrays him, stealing all his possessions and framing him for sexual assault.
The whole kingdom discriminates against him and punishes him for it. And then, he learns that he can’t equip other weapons besides shields, making it pretty much impossible for him to kill monsters and become stronger. He finds a solution despite the odds, one that will make him even more infamous.
26. Usogui by Toshio Sako
Usogui is a seinen manga series that combines psychological intrigue and high-stakes gambling in a thrilling narrative. The story centers around Baku Madarame, also known as “Usogui,” The Lie Eater.
He’s an exceptional gambler who faces off against maniacal opponents in various games, such as Escape the Abandoned Building, Old Maid, and Hangman. Baku’s ultimate goal is to out-gamble the neutral organization Kakerou, which oversees the dangerous world of high-stakes betting.
Readers are drawn to Usogui’s captivating atmosphere, where the line between life and death is often blurred by the outcomes of intense, psychological games. Baku’s cunning intellect and seemingly infinite charm made the series one of the most highly-rated seinen manga series ever!
Additionally, the artwork in Usogui effectively conveys the emotions and tension of its characters, which only adds to its allure.
27. Dead Dead Demon’s Dededede Destruction by Inio Asano
From the hands of Goodnight Punpun’s author, Asano Inio, comes Dead Dead Demon’s Dededededestruction. This one is a little difficult to explain, as it is with many of Asano Inio’s titles. However, it is unique, and I believe it can be a fascinating read for those looking for something out of the ordinary.
For instance, the series presents a Tokyo city that is being invaded by aliens, with a massive spaceship resting on top of it. However, this pretty much changes nothing in the lives of Tokyo residents, and they continue their lives as if nothing has happened.
Then, the series introduces Ouran and Kadode, a pair of best friends. The tale does not focus on the alien invasion per se but on the relationship between the two characters and how complex life can be, talking about things such as growing up, living life, and many more topics.
28. Goblin Slayer by Kumo Kagyuu & Kousuke Kurose
Goblin Slayer is one of those titles that became popular and, simultaneously, somewhat controversial because it showcases sexual assault rather regularly at the hands of the villains, the goblins.
Even then, it can be an excellent read for those dark topics. It begins by telling the story of an apprentice priestess who decides to become an adventurer and joins a party on a goblin hunt. The party does not take goblins seriously and is completely overwhelmed by them as a result.
To their rescue arrives the main character, a man dedicated to hunting goblins and only goblins, The Goblin Slayer! The protagonist is a lone adventurer obsessed with goblin hunting due to a tragic incident in his past. This drives him to use unconventional yet effective methods to hunt down and kill goblins while making enemies and allies along the way.
This Goblin Slayer works with a group of adventurers, including a priestess, a high-elf archer, a dwarf shaman, and a lizardman monk. Together, they face not only goblin threats but also larger forces at work in their world.
29. I Am A Hero by Kengo Hanazawa
I Am a Hero is a captivating seinen manga series that revolves around Hideo Suzuki, a 35-year-old manga assistant who dreams of becoming a successful and recognized mangaka.
Amidst his personal journey, he also grapples with maintaining his relationship with his girlfriend and dealing with his own delusions. As fate would have it, Suzuki finds himself in the middle of a terrifying zombie apocalypse. At first, we can see how much he struggles with life, but everything changes when the world-changing apocalypse starts, and afterward, he will see how society changes into one that is ruthless.
I Am a Hero brings an adrenaline-packed experience to its readers. With a unique take on the genre and an engaging protagonist, it has cemented itself as one of the best seinen manga series to date. After diving into the captivating world of Hanazawa’s storytelling, readers find themselves rooting for Suzuki in his quest for survival and self-discovery.
30. Jagaaaaaan by Muneyuki Kaneshiro & Kensuke Nishida
Jagaaaaaan is a supernatural action-horror seinen manga that focuses on Shintarou Jagasaki, an ordinary neighborhood police officer who is unsatisfied with his current life. While he maintains a friendly demeanor and plans to marry his girlfriend, he secretly fantasizes about shooting people who annoy him, just like his hero, the town’s eggplant mascot.
The plot of Jagaaaaaan revolves around supernatural powers that spread like a disease. The powers people receive are based on their desires, and if they are not careful in controlling these powers and desires, they can transform into disgusting monsters.
This aspect adds a unique touch to the manga, combining body horror and an interesting art style that sets it apart from other seinen series. In this manga, readers can expect intense action scenes, emotional struggles, and a journey of self-discovery as the protagonist deals with his newfound powers and the consequences of his choices.
With a great selection of genres to pick from and many original titles to read, it is not a big surprise that the seinen category is very popular.
The seinen genre has a lot to offer, and if you enjoy more mature stories in the world of manga, it is the best place to start! Pick up any one of the abovementioned seinen manga series, and I guarantee you will be able to enjoy it thoroughly!
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